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placeholder  March 5, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA

March 8: (morning) Bishop's Administrative Council, Chancery

            (afternoon) Diocesan Consultors, Chancery

March 10: (morning) School of Pastoral Ministry Graduation Mass, Berkeley

March 11: 10 a.m. Stational Mass, Cathedral

March 13: Clergy Study Day talk, Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota

March 13: Clergy Study Day talk, Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

March 15: (morning) Bishop's Administrative Council, Chancery

            (afternoon) Presbyteral Council, Chancery

March 17-19: Pastoral Visit, St. Joseph Parish, Pinole

March 20: Religious Liberty Committee meeting, Alliance of Catholic Health Care, Sacramento

March 22: (morning) Bishop's Administrative Council, Chancery

            (afternoon) Chancery lunch

March 24: (morning) Chrism Mass, Cathedral

March 25: 10 a.m. Stational Mass, Cathedral

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There were no diocese items in this issue

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There were no cathedral items in this issue

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HHS rule 'absurd,' Bishop Lori testifies

WASHINGTON—The Department of Health and Human Services mandate that would force virtually all employers to pay for sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs to employees has "absurd consequences," Bishop William E. Lori said Feb. 28.

Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, chair of the US bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, made his comments in testimony about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Bishop Lori voiced concern for an "accommodation" President Obama described Feb. 10, which suggested a way around moral concerns the church outlined in the health care reform act.

"This 'accommodation' would not change the scope of the mandate and its exemption," he said. "Instead, it would take the form of additional regulations whose precise contours are yet unknown and that may not issue until August 2013."

"For present purposes, the 'accommodation' is just a legally unenforceable promise to alter the way the mandate would still apply to those who are still not exempt from it," he said. He added that "the promised alteration appears logically impossible." Bishop Lori said that despite discussions on an accommodation the President has already finalized the controversial mandate.

"I emphasize this word—'force'—precisely because it is one of the key differences between a mere dispute over reproductive health policy and a dispute over religious freedom. This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs," he said.

Fight grows against rule

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Seven states have filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate that nearly all health insurance plans cover contraceptives free of charge, saying that it violates religious freedom and leaves "countless additional religious freedoms vulnerable to government intrusion." The latest lawsuit was filed as protests against the HHS mandate mounted.

Bishops welcome privacy statute

WASHINGTON — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the Obama administration's unveiling its "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights." The privacy bill provides guidelines for protecting the privacy of all Americans online.

"We support all of the privacy rights enumerated by this proposal — individual control; transparency; respect for context; security; access and accuracy; focused collection; and accountability," said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of USCCB Committee on Communications. "The Internet holds great potential. To realize this potential, however, it is essential that Americans know they are not exposing private information when they go online."

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Don't wait for explosion: Speakers say church must prevent abuse

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The take-away message from a Vatican-backed symposium on clerical sex abuse was clear: Victims, truth and justice come first. And the church can no longer wait for a crisis to erupt before it begins to address the scandal of abuse.

"We do not need to wait for a bomb to explode. Preventing it from exploding is the best response," said Philippine Archbishop Luis Tagle.

The archbishop of Manila was one of more than 200 bishops, cardinals, priests, religious and laypeople who attended a landmark symposium Feb. 6-9 in Rome.

The conference aimed to inspire and educate bishops' conferences around the world as they seek to comply with a Vatican mandate to establish anti-abuse guidelines by May.

U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, former archbishop of San Francisco and now prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that issued the mandate, said more than 4,000 cases of sexual abuse have been reported to the doctrinal office the past decade. Those cases revealed that an exclusively canonical response to the crisis has been inadequate, he said, and that a multifaceted and more proactive approach by all bishops and religious orders is needed.

Countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and Germany are among those with the most comprehensive and binding guidelines or norms, Cardinal Levada said.

"But in many cases such response came only in the wake of the revelation of scandalous behavior by priests in the public media," he added.

Learning the hard way, after generations of children and vulnerable adults are harmed and traumatized, shouldn't be the norm, symposium participants said.

Not all bishops or superiors are fully on board, he said, as some believe that no abuse has happened or will happen under their watch, said Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at The Catholic University of America, Washington.

Marie Collins, an abuse survivor from Ireland, said having her abuser's superiors shift the blame onto her and fail to stop the perpetrator caused her more pain and shock than the abuse itself.

The Vatican's top investigator of clerical sex abuse, Msgr. Charles Scicluna, didn't leave any wiggle room when it comes to complying with church and civil laws.

Bishops have a duty to cooperate fully with civil authority when civil laws are broken, he said.

Lent a time of grace

VATICAN CITY — The 40 days of Lent are a time of spiritual renewal in preparation for Easter, but they also are a time to recognize that evil is at work in the world and even the Catholic Church faces temptations, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope explained the meaning of Lent during his weekly general audience Feb. 22, Ash Wednesday. Like the people of Israel during their 40-year exodus and like Jesus during his 40 days in the desert, the Catholic Church and its members experience the grace of God, but also are besieged by evil around them and are tempted by power and selfishness, the pope said.

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